I had the dubious honor of judging at the half baked challenge last night.
In a ‘least worst’ decision the Silicon Welly All Star Team took it out. This is a group of people that you wouldn’t want to get trapped in a lift with. Their idea made little sense but they did manage to take at the prize primarily due to their gratuitous use of powerpoint (keynote).
While more fairer on the eye the much fancied Code Blacks made almost no sense at all. There pitch was so nebulous it was hard to find something solid to criticize, but at least the 4 attempts to try to save the the pitch provided some satisfyingly cringeworthy moments.
The highlight of the presentations was the ‘post hockey stick’ revenue curve presented by the Silicon Welly team.
That was cool. (Thanks GregD).Small Biz Expo notes
Fun to hang out at the Small Biz Expo today.
We won an award last night, blog entry here …. Accounting Software the Winner on the Night.
I did a quick presentation at lunchtime on starting a business. Here are the links to check out from that presentation.
Saw the new HP sub $1000 machine reviewed here. It includes Vista and wifi so is pretty compelling for students or anyone wanting a personal computer they can take anywhere. Seeing the controversy on the Mac Clone you start to wonder what hardware really costs.
It was good to see some small business people looking at new business models using technology. Jacqui from http://www.getahead.co.nz shouted me a coffee and showed me what she was doing.
There seemed to be a real buzz around the show. It is so different and a lot of fun working in the small business space compared to enterprise software.
Question of etiquette. How do you address an ex Shortland Street actor? This has happened to me twice now. Last year at Foo Camp. And today in the front row of my session.
You feel like you know them, but can’t use their character name. You have no idea what their real name is. You can’t say ‘how is the acting going’ because they are here listening to you. So you kinda just ignore it and feel awkward.
Any tips appreciated.Wireless Wednesday demo sessions
First up was Scott from www.sharesight.co.nz. This has been under development for the past year and is looking very slick.
They have data feeds of NZ and Australian stocks, dividend history, historical share prices for the past 10 years - all working like you would expect it to.
I’ve been looking for a Web 2.0 style portfolio manager and this looks like it will hit the spot.
They are in final testing stages so accounts are currently free. Go and have a play.
Next up was Bruce with his Enterprise Life Cycle product, www.e-lm.com. This is a heavy duty and very functional Enterprise SaaS offering. Needs a bit of work to make it pretty but starting to win customers around the world.
FrondeAnywhere showed off their mobile banking two factor authentication solution. I hope that some NZ banks pick it up soon as it is so much more convenient that carrying around a bag full of key generators.
Clare from BookHabit showed her project. It was very interesting to hear about their business model and how the industry has greeted their worthy effort in reducing the barriers to publishing.
Pricing goes from $2.50 to $5.00 as the book gets more popular. It is free to upload your book for sale.
Webstruxure showed off an early version of an information management tool.
Neal from Telecom finished off with a great discussion on the Telecom GSM network rollout. It is a huge project. Few interesting things were.
- The spectrum Telecom is using is becoming more common around the world as challenger Telco’s come into the market and can’t get 900/1800 spectrum.
- The 3G iPhone should work on the spectrum they are going for.
- They already have a CDMA BlackBerry. I thought they were GSM ones.
- The new towers will have fibre to them so upstream data bottlenecks shouldn’t exist. Maybe will see non-frightening mobile data pricing finally.
No doubt the Telecom data guys get the Internet. Great to see these comments on Monday which indicate Telecom sees a more open mobile data view of the world as a differentiator from the global Vodafone model.
Telecom believed in providing mobile customers with an “open portal” so they could roam the Web at will, rather than providing them with access to a limited range of services through a “walled garden”, he says.
Something different for the upcoming Wellington Wireless Wednesday on the 26th.
As we’re not shy in the capital it’s demo night.
What is demo night? A series of quick 10 minute demos on web or mobile projects you’ve been working on. Come along and present your “next big thing”.
How does it work? There will be a whiteboard to put up your ideas, the crowd votes on what they want to see. The top 6 then get 10 minutes of demo time. Crowd goes wild.
Sounds like you? RSVP online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
26th March, 5.30pm – 8pm
Where: Xero HQ
Level 1, Old Bank
98 Customhouse Quay
I’m presenting at the New Zealand Software Association dinner on March the 11th in Auckland.
Well into their first year as a listed company Rod will go over experiences to date with online accounting provider Xero, what is happening with Software as a Service, and the experiences of transitioning from a Software Development company to a Marketing company.
Venue: The Floating Pavilion, Time: 6pm - 8.30pm.World Class company
I was delighted to win an Award at the 2008 World Class New Zealand event last night.Â The past few days I’ve been privileged to spend with many of my heroes and had many stimulating workshops on how we can make New Zealand better and help businesses get offshore.
The winners from last night were
- Biotechnology â€“ Prof. Garth Cooper
- Information and Communications Technology - Rod Drury
- Research, Science, Technology & Academia â€“ Prof. Margaret Brimble
- Finance, Investment & Business Services - Craig Norgate
- Manufacturing - Maurice Prendergast
- Creative Industries - Phil Keoghan
- New Thinking - Bruce Farr
Peri Drysdale from Untouched World won the supreme award.E2theMax
Did a fun breakfast presentation in Napier this morning. Jacqui from E2theMax is a local connector and put on the session. They have a fantastic facility up there that you can use when passing through or doing an event. Great for team conferences. Wireless, good AV and a great presentation room.
It was great to meet a number of very on-to-it business owners including one of our excellent and very active partners Michelle from Middelberg Chartered Accountants. There is a lot of good stuff happening in the Hawkes Bay.Best of Foo
Up in Warkworth for version 2 of Foo Camp.
Highlights so far include New Zealand electric car hero Ian Wright of WrightSpeed, and Mike from Atlassian is back in NZ. He seems to like it here.
Meraki is a low cost Mesh Wifi device and back end management service. Google recently put money in them to flood SanFran with free wifi. Already lots of talk about what we could do in Wellington with that.
Fluid is a Site Specific Browser maker for OSX. It allows you to run a browser application - like an application. GMail being an obvious example. The Dock icons (called badges) can have some intelligence. For example querying the page for unread messages.
Available badges seem to be hard coded into the app and the GMail badge doesn’t seem to work for hosted domains - the default seems to be a text editor icon which is not that useful. This might be cool for Xero as well. We could display an unreconciled transaction count as an example. Bit more research to do when I get home.
The Jing Project is an interesting screen capture and screen-to-flash app that has a very different ’sunburst interface’.
Rowan liked web debugging proxy Charles developed a young dud up here but I haven’t had a play yet.
Also need to look at iTimeMachine (Use time machine to any network disk). They say on their site that the upcoming TimeCapsule update won’t allow you to point time machine at a USB drive (AirDrive) connected to your current Airport. That’s going to upset the Apple community.
Another few sessions to go this morning.Entreprenuership event 8-9 Jan
This looks like a useful event early next year …
As part of PricewaterhouseCoopers Hi-Tech programme for 2007-2008, PwC is hosting Ken Morse, Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Centre.
Ken’s two day workshop will be held in Auckland on 08-09 January 2008 and is aimed at business leaders from hi growth, innovative NZ companies. The two day workshop is based on case studies, lectures, interactive discussions and hands on exercises and is focussed on assisting in the development of growth strategies - covering topics such as reaching global markets, building global networks, sales strategies, and capital raising.
Register here www.entrepreneurshipnewzealand.comDigital Strategy Summit quick notes
Great day at the Digital Strategy 2.0 summit yesterday.
I’ve been putting out that the Digital Summit was a key focal point for our industry this year. I think yesterday lived up to that. Some key points for me were.
- David Cunliffe has definitely been listening. Key parts of his plan moving forward included a focus on international - where economic transformation can really take place, and that aligning funding structures to the infrastructure layer may hold the answer. I’ll post about my Funding Separation thoughts later. But yesterdays DC speech was excellent.
- Maurice Williamson, the National party spokesman who I’ve mentioned before as being the invisible man this year, has sprung into life. Maurice was saying why don’t we just do Fibre to the Home (FTTH) on a debt basis and take a bold step. Yeah boy. (I think it’s clear that the National Party members have been told not to speak on specific policy yet so they must be getting things lined up for a big launch next year.) Maurice was in great form and good to spend time with him.
- The people in the industry we spar with are all good people, and their behavior is completely logical. I especially enjoyed spending time with Alan Freeth yesterday who has a great sense of humour. Paul Reynolds is great bloke and had a good first speech to the industry. Good to also see Mark Ratcliffe was around. I worked with Mark at EY many years ago so feel a sense of pride as he moves up the ranks. Tom Chignall’s mo was looking quite acceptable by the end of the month.
- Sam did a great presentation. I think people are pleasantly surprised to see that Sam actually is very bright and doesn’t take himself to seriously.
- Andy’s presentation from Austin Texas was excellent. His points on ICT having to be environmentally friendly were well made. That got me thinking big time.
- The long tail presentation from Chris Anderson was also great. Really ties into our SaaS messaging. Lots of goodies in that session.
- Loved the Gen-Y people. Really impressive.
- The broadband map project looked like a useful initiative. http://www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz/Your-Region/broadbandmap/
- There were 500 people there. The conference laptops put on by HP and Cisco were excellent. Being able to participate and converse during the speeches was very useful, though the moderator didn’t seem to appreciate my sense of humor.
- I really like the people in our industry and it was good to catch up with many many smart people in person.
More to come later but just wanted to get this up.Best night ever
Well this week anyway. When you’re road tripping, every so often you get a night out of the box.
The Chambers event tonight was 20 minutes out of Timaru. People who run the regional chambers of commerce have to be connectors and have personality. What a great bunch of people. Funny, smart and interesting.
After a couple of humorous speeches the place was rocking with the Funky Hot Mamas. Those girls rock and had every one dancing until the buses left at midnight.
You know it was good when someone comes up and says. “Loved your speech today. Brilliant.” (errrr, I’m on tomorrow - and now can only disappoint.)
So far Timaru has been a blast. Next year’s event is in Rotorua. Book me in.NZX Tech and the Markets slides
On Saturday the NZX hosted an excellent day for tech businesses, focussed specifically on valuation.
The presentations and slides from Ken Bender of the Software Equity Group were very valuable and just showed us how big the tech world is right now.
You can get the slides here: NZX Technology and the Markets Forum - Presentations
There was a great discussion on SaaS and Enterprise SaaS. The hot market is definitely SMB SaaS but I still there is an excellent opportunity for local tech companies in the Enterprise SaaS space where (as Ken says) the delivery technology and security profile of the data suits the application. ActionThis are a good local example of that.
Zeacom presentation is compulsory for NZ tech exporters.
For those in the audience who felt a bit depressed from the talk prior to mine, here is a ray of light: Surveylab closes in on military.
Kudos to NZX for bringing someone like Ken down to NZ.PWC Hi-Tech Awards 07
Another good night at Hi-Tech Awards last night. Thanks PWC for your ongoing support. Great to catch up with so many friends and colleagues.
Endace were the worthy winners of the premier award. What they have been achieving around the world over the last year is fantastic. New Zealand hero’s. Endace listed on the AIM a couple of years ago so are a few years ahead of us but give us some great experiences to follow.
Great to see Caroline from Fronde recognized for their mobile banking security product. She has been working in that space for many years and it’s now really paying off.
The Energy Mad guys were great. We’ll watch them with interest.
Our team at Xero had a good night. Craig won the Young Achiever and Kate picked up the PR and Marketing gong for the work in our IPO. I’ve been working with Craig for many years and he is one of the hardest working and tech smart guys around. He can get in front of customers too so will be a tech player in the years to come. I’m really proud of Kate winning the PR prize as well. She has a big part in balancing getting enough buzz to get the IPO across the line without over hyping us which was a real risk. We set that award as a goal after last years ceremony so I was rapt we achieved that.
I was stoked to jointly win the Entrepreneur award again this year. It’s a really useful thing to have when you’re selling overseas so I was keen to have it again. Darrin Grafton from Serko was the other joint winner. Those guys are a lot further along than us and earning lots of export revenue so I’m glad that he was recognized. The whole point of the awards is to encourage others so that was a good result.
Last years awards in Auckland were bigger. They normally are. But looking around the room I felt a bit disappointed by the lack of depth in the industry. While there are parts booming the IT sector doesn’t feel as vibrant as it did a few years ago. There are some notable exceptions but really there are few companies doing it. The global tech space is so exciting right now and I think we’re missing the opportunity.
There were whole sectors of the community not there last night. I saw some great stories and innovation at the Open Source awards a few weeks ago and many of those people weren’t there. Perhaps we need an OSS section next year.
It may also be there are just too many awards right now. There is talk of a bit more consolidation which I’ll be pushing for.
For early stage companies like ours awards are a big part of our early marketing strategy. They are great for brand awareness and validation for customers, partners and investors. So we should see more companies doing the small investment to get organized and entered.
But for our industry it is vital that we celebrate success and tell our stories so that we get more investment and have a bigger voice in setting policies like the treatment of R&D expenditure. I assume it’s Christchurch’s turn next year. All Tech companies should be thinking now about next years awards. Set yourself a goal now like we did last year. Which one do you really want to win?Awards season
It’s been a busy week with awards. Almost as great as receiving is giving.
On Tuesday we had the cable car challenge. Fantastic event up and the cable car and some worthy winners. Judging was was a lot of fun.
Last night was the HiTech Awards finalists announcement. I got to speak for a few minutes on what last years award meant for me. Will be great night on November 3.
And later on last night was the Open Source Awards where I presented the Business category. Fantastic event run by Catalyst IT. Great community and some amazing projects going on the Open Source World.
Don had the best public speaking opening line ever with “It’s not like in front of the mirror is it”.
David Cunliffe was there again, and I again I got to follow him on stage. As I’ve said before he is one of the hardest working MP’s, turns up to all the events and actively builds relationships with the industry. It’s appreciated.Seat gap + Cure
Am I getting bigger or are AirNZ winding the seats closer a centimetre each week?
They seem to have just crossed the line where you can’t open your laptop on your tray any more.
This is a major pain. Normally on the way home I bang out some email follow ups from meetings during the day, maybe write a blog post and just catch up. I can’t do that anymore so that 30 minutes dead time used for catch up now has to happen at home later on. Grrrrrrrr!
I’ve been doing the once a week to Auckland for probably 15 years or so now. I had a 7:30 this morning and found myself in Auckland the same night as the Cure. Sometimes you need to take the opportunity.
Vector Area was really convenient, thought it would be great if they stuck some egg crates or whatever around the walls to fix the sound.
The Cure was nostalgia night and good to see people of my vintage reliving their youth. When they said it would be 3 hours you knew it was going to be indulgent. They could have taken 60 minutes out of the middle and it would have be better.
We have kids now. We pay baby sitters. 2 hours is plenty.Xero Roadshow
If you’d like to see what we’ve been busy working on for the past year please come along to the Xero Revolution Roadshow.
The schedule is here … http://www.xero.com/revolution
|1 August||Whangarei||Kingsgate Whangarei|
|2 August||North Shore||North Harbour Stadium|
|3 August||Auckland||Xero Offices, Level 1, 20 Beaumont St, Freemans Bay, Auckland|
|6 August||Hamilton||Quality Hotel Hamilton (Kingsgate)|
|7 August||Tauranga||Kingsview Resort and Towers|
|8 August||Napier||Napier Sailing Club|
|9 August||Taupo||Huka Village Resort|
|10 August||New Plymouth||Waterfront Hotel|
|13 August||Palmerston North||Convention Centre|
|14 August||Wellington||Xero Offices, Level 1, Old Bank Chambers, 98 Customhouse Quay, Wellington|
|17 August||Queenstown||The Crowne Plaza|
|27 August||Invercargill||Stairs Function Centre|
|28 August||Dunedin||Otago Museum Discovery Centre|
|29 August||Christchurch||Heritage Christchurch, Cathedral Square|
|31 August||Nelson||Rutherford Hotel|
During Morgo there were a number of books strongly recommended for TechBiz types. All on Amazon.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials)”
Robert B. Cialdini - recommended by Alan Nunns in his ‘How to sell to CIO’s” talk
- “The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations”
Ori Brafman - recommended by Wayne from Revera (I think - correct me if I’m wrong)
- “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big”
Bo Burlingham- recommended by Mike from Atlassian
Did I miss any?
Thanks Jenny and team for another great event.Idealog Event
The team behind Idealog (Vincent, Martin, Matt, Sarah, Ben and the gang) are really taking a lead in starting conversations as well as celebrating success. They are a valuable voice in the industry and you can support them by subscribing here. Nothing better than receiving that bimonthly package of reading joy.
I spoke about the Xero IPO, our reasoning for doing an IPO and invited people to watch us as a case study of putting the funding in place to do things properly. Hamish Carter of course stole the show and relayed some of his experiences of his first job.
I really enjoyed meeting the people at the event last night. A very stimulating bunch. It was great that people stayed on and networked.
Before the event we heard from the Steinlager Marketing Manager on the thinking behind Steinlager Pure, their new beer. We heard savvy beer insider speak such as ‘the hangover myth’, ‘premium hard men’ and ‘a liquid barrier’. Fantastic. I did sample the Steinlager Pure (several times) and I can report that the dreaded Steinlager hangover did not occur. Success!
The night continued with about 20 of us in Ponsonby. A lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the next event.Hi-Tech Awards - open for entries
The PWC Hi-Tech Awards are now open. 3rd November. Wellington.
This was one of the best events on the technology industry calendar last year. This year it is in Wellington. There are lots of good reasons to enter.
This is the best night of the year for our industry to show itself off so I hope we see people making the effort. Only 500 tickets so you’ll need to be quick.Software Research and Development
I enjoyed speaking at the launch of the Auckland Centre for Software Innovation (CSI) Extenda program tonight. Extenda provides ICT companies with the understanding and tools needed to exploit Research and Development (R&D) activities in their business.
There was a good crowd in attendance and nice to catch up with friends and colleagues across the industry.
I started off comparing R&D for software companies against the inputs that traditional manufacturing companies require to create goods and services. Traditional companies require plant, materials as well as R&D. In software we donâ€™t really require significant investment in plant or materials. The raw materials for software is R&D. In software:
R&D = Talented People + Time
Another contrast is the relationship between costs and revenue. In traditional businesses:
costs + a reasonable margin = revenue
In software there is the potential for almost no relationship between cost and revenue. For example, is there is no relationship between what the Microsoft Office team costs compared to the worldwide revenues they create.
Investing in R&D provides the opportunity to create this desirable dichotomy.
In New Zealand we seldom give ourselves time to do R&D. You cannot separate R&D from investment.
This lack of investment means that we do not invest in R&D to create digital assets, rather we fall back to capital-light service type businesses where our valuable talent is deployed to simply charge time. This is an inefficient use of our most precious natural resource.
The bottom line is that as an industry we are inexperienced in R&D. The Extenda program provides an academic framework and peer discussion opportunity to accelerate your R&D program. There are only 10 slots and at least 4 have gone so register quickly if you are interested.
A bonus of my evening was meeting Falafulu Fisi - a frequent commenter on my blog who just astounds me and the Xero team with the depth of his knowledge. Great to meet you Falafulu and I hope we see you in Wellington soon. I hope you start your own blog because we all enjoy hearing what you have to say.
Good to catch up with Mark and Owen on the way home doing the late night Auckland to Wellington shuffle. (Fortunately Iâ€™d already learned not to book that last Qantas flight.)